On the face of it, Gabe Hudson’s debut novel Gork, the Teenage Dragon has little in common with A Life of Adventure and Delight, the new collection of stories by Akhil Sharma. Gork follows a dragon at WarWings Military Academy who must, as his graduation day approaches, ask a female dragon to be his queen, even though he’s the nerdiest dragon in the class. (If she declines, he’ll becomes a slave.) The eight stories in Adventure of Delight, meanwhile, are all set on Earth as we know it. They focus on Indian families at home and abroad, all of them navigating the vagaries of morality and love—a wife in an arranged marriage is shocked to find that she’s in love with her husband; a divorcé reads women’s magazines in an effort to become an ideal partner.
You’d think two such writers would have little to say to each other. But Sharma and Hudson are longtime friends, and fate has dictated that their new books be published on the same day—today, in fact, July 11. To celebrate, the pair convened at a Park Slope apartment belonging to neither of them, where, over lasagna and cashews, they discussed the terrifying prospect of releasing their work into the world; enduring fallow periods of more than a decade between books; and the pleasures of imagining life on planet Blegwethia. —Ed.
It seems very special to have written something so artful and yet accessible. Gork, the Teenage Dragon has to be one of the more original novels that Knopf has published.
I think it’s safe to say that this is Knopf’s first space dragon. When I first started writing Gork, people would ask me, What are you working on? I would describe the book a bit, and it would sound absurd—for the longest time it was just me believing in this dragon, this space dragon. So now, to hear people reference Gork like he’s an actual entity has been the great pleasure. Gork has started to take on a life of his own, at this point. My goal was to write something that any type of reader would be able to commune with. I always think of myself as a kid—like, a fifteen-, sixteen-, seventeen-year-old trying to make sense of the chaos of the world. Back then I was so grateful for Kurt Vonnegut, whose books sent a signal out to me, saying it’s okay to be kind of crazy, or, actually, this whole “life” thing you’ve been born into is kind of a lie, so let me tell you some even more outrageous lies to get at the truth. I was hoping, in writing this book, to send that signal out to anyone who might be in that position. Read More